Posted 7 Apr 2018

Just Easy Listening

In my job working in a HiFi Shop, I am in the privileged position of trying out a few new pieces of gear and upgrades to existing equipment which arrive at the shop before general release. I have Linn gear at home myself, so it was of special interest when Glasgow HQ announced that Katalyst Digital to Analogue upgrades were at last in the pipeline for their popular Akurate range of Digital Streamers and Exaktbox Electronic Crossovers. Linn, after all were the company who spearheaded high end streaming in this country.

The Katalyst upgrades for Akurate have been sometime in the making. Their flagship Klimax DS range has already been blessed with this particular upgrade for the last eighteen months or so, and we had enjoyed the very obvious musical benefits here in the shop. One customer who has the Katalyst upgrade board fitted to his Klimax DSM has very recently described his system as "Stunning".  But wonderful though the Klimax range undoubtedly is, its price puts it beyond the reach of most mortals who, having heard it at its very best, are left just shaking heads and wondering.

The Akurate range - at approximately half the Klimax price - is a different kettle of fish. Still a stretch financially for many but worthwhile for those who love their music and are keen to own something well designed from a thoroughbred company who, as history has proved, look after their customers. Linn offer good build quality, good reliability and worthwhile upgrade paths - and have been around for a long, long time!

At home I have an old style Linn system based around the original Isobarik loudspeakers driven by four venerable Klout Power amplifiers fed in their turn by an Akurate 10 way Exakt crossover, this in turn is fed by a Klimax Exakt DSM. The DSM gets its music files from a Melco streamer.

Over the months and the years I will confess to having messed with this system trying to get the best from it (I will not bore you with details here) and I like to think that it sounds pretty good. However, it has just had its greatest musical upgrade ever. Replacing the motherboard within the Exaktbox with a newly minted Katalyst version has made all the difference. It took about an hour to change over to the new motherboard, forty eight screws in all and a careful tightening down of the motherboard screws to the chassis to four tenths of a Newton metre, as recommended, helped achieve the magic. 

I could go on about the very obvious musical benefits that the Katalyst has brought about within my system but I will simply say that many old favourites that I always loved on Vinyl, Van Morrison's “Saint Dominic’s Preview” for instance & Zakir Hussain’s old ECM classic “Making Music”, having always previously disappointed on CD have now sprung to life - for the first time in their digital lives. Subtle, sweet, involving - I have found myself listening to albums from end to end. The music just flows - rather like a Vinyl record. Indeed ‘Just Easy Listening’ springs to mind. The Katalyst allows the system to sound very natural and not at all digital. Congratulations Linn for a very worthwhile improvement.

If this intrigues you at all book an appointment with your local Linn dealer who will be pleased to play you the differences so you can hear them for yourself.